Alex Showalter-Bucher

Northeastern student awarded graduate fellowship in homeland security

Northeastern student, Alex Showalter-Bucher, was recently awarded a graduate fellowship through the ALERT DHS HS-STEM (Homeland Security-Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Career Development Program.  This Department of Homeland Security program awards up to four graduate fellowships to full-time students who are U.S. citizens, pursuing MS or Ph. D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Alex plans to complete his masters via his fellowship and is currently preparing for his 10-week summer internship, a required component of the program. He will be working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory through the Department of Homeland Security Summer Internship program on research related to Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

This type of opportunity was one of the main reasons Showalter-Boucher applied to the fellowship, saying “It’s really nice the support I have with this program as opposed to some other programs that don’t necessarily give you the support to find internships or jobs. I think there are a lot of high quality selections I have through the program. This program sets you up for a successful career.”

The DHS-related research Showalter-Bucher is pursuing involves working with  radar technologies in tunnel detection.  The aim is to use aerial flyovers for fast, real-time detection, improving on current ground-based methods that are slow and require extensive setups.

This work is not without its challenges, Showalter-Bucher explains: “The issue that comes about in the method we are using is the difference of the radar from air to the ground. There is a lot of interference from ground reflection; it drowns out the signal from the tunnel. We are working on a technique to eliminate that noise.

I’m just starting the project, so I’m working with simulations right now. We are partnering with a group in Israel that develops the data we work with. When we progress in the research, I’ll have the opportunity to test it out in the field.”

The ALERT DHS HS-STEM fellowship offers full tuition and a stipend of $2,300 per month for up to two years, dependent upon satisfactory progress.  Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are required to engage in a minimum one year of service at a DHS-approved STEM venue.

Interested students should apply for the fellowship by May 15, 2012 for priority consideration.  Full program information and the application are located at: DHS Homeland Security Stem Career Development Program